SULTANATE OF SULU: Titles and Styles

Member, Ruma Bichara
Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo

First of 3 Parts

1.    ṢULṬAN (from the Turkic-Arabic “Ṣulṭān”) – King, emperor, the monarch; He is the spiritual leader, the ceremonial head of state and the governing sovereign ruler of the Realm;

2.    AMPUN – One’s formal address when in direct conversation to the Sultan; It means “My Liege” or “My Lord” [As the Sultan owes his or her allegiance/fealty];

3.    PADUKA – “His Majesty” or “His Royal Highness;” Also, a rank of administrative authority lower than that of a panglima or maharajah;

4.    SRI (in local usage, “Sari”, as in “MAHASARI” – “The Sovereign Ruler”) – A Majapahit title of respect for a highly distinguished person in authority; A later derivative is “Saripada” in Maranao, “Salipada” in Maguindanao, and “Saipada” in Tausug (that is, “Sri” or “Sari” – which means, “royal” and “one who is highly respected” – combined with “Pada,” – which means, “authority” or “rule”); By the way, “Datu Sri” or “Datu Seri” in Malaysia means “Grand Knight” or “Knight Commander;”

5.    MARḤŪM or al-Marḥūm (also localized in Marano dialect as “Marohom”) – An honorific style for the deceased Sultan; It denotes “the Late,” which is part of the whole title of the deceased Sultan;

6.    RAJAH MUDA (localized, “Ladjamura”) – Crown prince, first in line to succeed the Sultan;

7.    MAHARAJAH ADINDA (localized, “Ladjarinda”) – Second heir apparent, second in line after the Rajah Muda; Usually, from another royal house;

8.    RAJAH BAṢAR (localized, “Ladjabassal”) – Usually, the second or middle son of the Sultan;

9.    RAJAH BUNGSU (localized, “Ladjabungso”) – The youngest son of the Sultan;

10.    RAJAH (localized, “Ladja”) – Ruler or sovereign, esp., in pre-sultanate Sulu; The famous one in pre-Sultanate Sulu was the Rajah Sipad of Maimbung;

11.    DATU’ – Prince or lord; Chief; The plural is KARATU’AN;

12.    DATU BANDAHALA (from the Bruneian or Malay “Datu Bendahara” or “Rajah Bendahara”) – the administering datu’ or the most senior datus who among other things is primary responsible for the coronation or installation of the Sultan (as he is also of the same lineage with the Sultan); He fully knows the lineages (tarsilas) of all datus and the rules on the order (or taritib) of succession – thus, the legitimacy of the sultan to rule the realm also lies in him (i.e., in his affirmation, approval and support); Usually appointed by a previous Sultan; In 14th century ‘Philippines,’ the ruler of Panay, Datu Kalantiaw, was also called “Rajah Bandahara Kalantiaw;”

13.    DATU’ RAJAH (localized, “Ladjarato”) – Chief datu’ or great datu’;

14.    DATU’ PANGIRAN (localized, “Datu’ Pangilan”) – An honored and respected datu’, a datu’ of the Sultan’s inner court, a full-blooded datu’ (that is, from both father and mother);

15.    RUMA BICHARA (or Ruma Bechara; also Ruma Bitsara) – Council of advisers or state ministers [of the Sultanate];

16.    WAZĪR – Prime minister, chief adviser to the Sultan; Presiding Officer or Speaker of the Ruma Bichara in session; Also, “Puntukan Wazir” for Prime Minister, and “Tuku Puntukan Wazir” for Deputy Prime Minister;”

17.    MANTIRI – It means “minister,” as in “Mantiri Asip,” the chief minister of Rajah Baginda when he arrived in Sulu prior to the establishment of the Sultanate;

18.    PANG’HULU’-PANG’HALAPAN – the Sultan’s Executive Minister; He could be a non-datu’;

19.    PANGIRAN ADIPATI AGUNG – Foreign minister; Sultan’s ambassador; He is Member of the Ruma Bichara;

20.    MUFTI – (A modern usage), the assigned Islamic scholar to issue fatwas or verdicts on religious matters; He is a member of the Ruma Bichara;

21.    DATU’ MULUK BANDAR SHĀH (localized, “Datu’ Bandarasa”) – Minister of the interior; Member of the Ruma Bichara;

22.    DATU’ JULKARNAIN (from the Arabic, “Dzul-Qarnayn” or “The one with Two Horns,” namely, Alexander the Great) – Minister of war; Or commanding general of the Sultan’s royal armed forces; Member of the Ruma Bichara;

23.    DATU’ TUMANGGUNG DĀGANGAN – Minister of trade and industry; Secretary of commerce; Member of the Ruma Bichara; One other Datu’ Tumanggung is the Court Protocol Officer of the Sultanate, but not necessarily a member of the Ruma Bichara; And another more notable is the Datu Tumanggung Bantilan, the Sultan’s Executive Secretary;

24.    DATU’ SHAH BANDAR (localized, “Datu Sabandal”) – Manager of ports; Chief of customs; Member of the Ruma Bichara;

25.    DATU’ MAMANCHA – Minister of labor, agriculture and food; Member of the Ruma Bichara;

26.    DATU’ AMĪR BAHAR (localized, “Datu’ Amilbahar”) – Admiral or chief of the navy; Member of the Ruma Bichara;

27.    DATU’ SAWADJA’AN (from the Bruneian, “Shah Wijaan”) – Revenue or tax collector; Member of the Ruma Bichara;

28.    DATU’ SAHIBULMAL – The Sultanate’s finance minister or treasurer; Member of the Ruma Bichara;

29.    MAHARAJAH LAYLA – Chief of Intelligence; Reporting directly to the Sultan;

30.    DATU’ PANGLIMA – Army field commander; A ruling datu’ [of a given territory]; Provincial/district governor; Chief emissary, representative or viceroy of the Sultan;

31.    DATU’ LAKSAMANA or Laksamana – Commodore or navy captain;

32.    DATU’ SUSULTANUN – A datu’ born of a Sultan; A datu’ of a Sultan’s lineage;

33.    DATU’ SADJA – A commoner who has been conferred the rank of “datu” by the Sultan;

34.    DATU’ PAHALAWAN or Juhan Pahalawan – A datu known or famous for his gallantry and valor; In the battlefield, he is either a major or a colonel [in the Sultan’s royal armed forces] commanding a battalion of Bubunu’;

35.    DATU’ BARBANGSA – A datu coming from a family or clan of datus (admittedly, a recent coinage); He could either be a datu susultanun or a datu sadja;

36.    SAURAGAL – Although, popular now as a surname, the term or title of “Sauragal” refers to a person of moral or religious authority, as he is considered knowledgeable in Islam, local culture and traditions; 

37.    PANGIYAN – Queen or empress, the Sultan’s wife or consort; She could be a commoner;

38.    DAYANG-DAYANG – Princess, daughter of a Sultan;

39.    DAYANG-DAYANG PANGIYAN – Literally, queen-princess; A Sultan’s wife whose father was also a Sultan; (Sultan in ama’, sultan isab in nabana);

40.    DAYANG-DAYANG PUTLI’ – A princess whose father was a Sultan and mother a daughter of a ruling rajah or datu’;

(Continued next issue)

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